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A Christian holiday that has adopted many different traditions over the year, Christmas is a time for crowded stores, hunting down that perfect tree, as well as mailing out a ridiculous amount of holiday greeting cards!  AJM Insurance would like to provide some fun facts regarding the origins of the holiday, as well as history on some of the fun traditions that make Christmas what it is today!

 

Origins

The name Christmas comes from two Old English words, “Cristes Maesse”, which means “mass of Christ” representing the story of the birth of baby Jesus in Bethlehem.  Christ was born on the 25th, however the month is uncertain.  The Catholic Church chose December as a month to appeal to Pagan religion, which celebrated Yule around that time for the winter solstice.  The Catholics adopted things such as the tree to allure Pagans to convert to Christianity.

 

Traditions

  • Santa Clause- Saint  Nicholas of Turkey was a generous man who was devoted towards children.  Claims arose that he could perform miracles and indifferent parts of the world, he is called different names.  Many churches in Europe were dedicated to him, and in the 1100’s December 6 was a day in his honor in which gift giving and charity was observed.  All of these perceptions fit together to create the image of Santa that most people associate with today.
    • Russia- patron saint of Russia, characterized by red cape, and white beard
    • Greece- patron saint of sailors
    • France- patron of lawyers
    • Belgium- patron of children and travelers
    • Dutch culture- the name Sint Nikolaas morphed into Sinterklaas, children would leave their wooden shoes by the fire, and Sinterklaas would reward good children with presents in their shoes.  This tradition migrated to the Americas in the 1600’s during colonization, where the name Santa Clause comes to fruition.
  • Christmas Tree- decoration of indoor and outdoor trees in the Middle Ages depicted the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Protestant reformer Martin Luther was the first to put lights on the tree and Queen Victoria’s husband brought the Christmas tree over to England from Germany.
  • Stockings- According to legend, a story of three young daughters left without dowries due to foolish spending by a widowed father, were helped by the generous St. Nicholas.  He heard of their plight and set forth on his white horse to anonymously throw three small pouches of coins down the chimney, where they were captured involuntarily by the stockings they had hung by the fireplace to dry!
  • Mistletoe- Scandanavians associated the plant with their goddess of love, hence the kissing tradition, Romans believed it to quell fighting- that “enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace”.
  • Holly- Originally placed outside of doors and homes to drive away evil ghosts and demons.  It was believed that it had magical properties since it remained green throughout winter.  From a more religious story, it was said that holly sprung from the footsteps of Christ as he walked on the Earth.
  • Candy Canes- Originally created in the shape to hang on trees, they were also given to children to keep them quiet during church ceremonies.  The symbolism of the candy cane is that the white represents Christ’s purity, red for the blood he shed, and three stripes represent the Holy Trinity. Although not proven, that is what many Christians believe.

 

These interesting facts and more can be read about here! http://www.allthingschristmas.com/traditions.html

 

Here are some fun activities to try with young children!

http://www.christmas-activities.com/

 

From all of us at AJM Insurance, Merry Christmas!

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